Temple community remembers Eileen Bradley

Eileen Bradley, Temple University Police Department’s first female officer, passed away at age 77, leaving behind friends, family and the Temple community.

Captain Eileen Bradley, who served the Temple community for 50 years, passed away Friday, December 1st. | COURTESY / TEMPLE UNIVERSITY

Eileen Bradley, the first female Temple University Police Department officer, a retired captain and 1972 criminal justice alumnus, passed away on Dec. 1 at the age of 77.   

Bradley devoted an impressive five decades to serving the Temple community. She made history as TUPD’s first woman officer and served as project coordinator for the Department of Public Safety’s engagement unit in her most recent role.

“Eileen’s love for the university and our department is well-known, and she was exceptionally well-regarded within the community for her consistent, passionate and selfless service,” wrote Vice President for Public Safety Jennifer Griffin in a message to The Temple News. “Eileen was a friend, colleague and beloved mentor to so many within the department.”

Bradley was also the City of Philadelphia’s first female patrol officer during a time when most women worked exclusively in administrative positions. She was also the first woman to graduate from the Pennsylvania FBI detective school. 

Bradley worked as a nurse before pursuing a career in public safety, and when she left the healthcare field, a fellow nurse encouraged Bradley to apply to Temple’s police department. 

She made history once she was accepted, but Bradley always had a fearless and adventurous spirit. She traveled to Europe both by herself and with friends on many occasions. 

Bradley was always the type to never think twice about taking on a massive challenge, like becoming a detective or police officer, said Monica Hankins-Padilla, external relations coordinator for TUPD and a 1998 environmental engineering alumna. 

Hankins-Padilla first met Bradley in 1996 when participating in TUPD’s hapkido martial arts club. Bradley, a lieutenant at the time, offered Hankins-Padilla a student-worker job within the department; multiple students worked within TUPD and were mentored by Bradley throughout their time at the department.  

“She participated as much as she was physically able to, it was a very physical course and not to take away from the fact that Eileen was was a wonderful athlete, but martial arts in particular, she did what she could do and was very supportive of the collaborative mission of the of the club itself,” Hankins-Padilla said.

Bradley was involved with Temple’s student body and the surrounding community while employed at the university and during her retirement. She spearheaded a variety of events like TUPD’s annual children’s holiday party, the turkey giveaway and 5K events to support the community and department. 

Bradley also participated in the “Temple Runs Broad” group, a collaborative effort between Temple’s Risk Management department and TUPD. She ran the 10K about 19 times.

Around 10 years ago, Temple’s Fox School of Business Risk Management team only had about a dozen faculty and student participants for the Broad Street Run, but the participant count heavily increased after the department collaborated with Bradley. She even helped host a barbecue after the run for participants and supporters. 

“She was very good at helping and making things manageable, because she could just get space, she could get tables so that people could set it up to try and sign up for volunteers and things like that,” said Michael McCloskey, a risk management professor. “Those are just things that we didn’t have access to, that she could, and ultimately we all had a similar goal but at one point our team was very large.”

The retired police captain also founded Temple H.A.N.D.S, Having Ambition N’ Devotion for Service, around 2011. Although the club is no longer active, members participated in community service events like street cleanups and fundraisers. 

Bradley inspired many students during her time at Temple, she loved connecting people and uplifting students and the community, Hankins-Padilla added.

“There’s a number of students who I would say are, metaphorically, her children because she helped them graduate, she helped them get into college,” Hankins-Padilla said.

Students were connected to Bradley through their student organizations like H.A.N.D.S, or through the presentations she gave to students in Greek life. McCloskey, Temple Student Government and others often referred students to Bradley for a variety of reasons, whether they were experiencing landlord troubles or food insecurity.

Besides Bradley’s dedication to Temple’s campus, she was also the primary caretaker of her parents before they passed, and younger sister, who has mental disabilities. Bradley ensured she was home on time to take care of her sister regardless of evening meetings or the obligations of her position.

Last month, DPS distributed more than 70 turkeys to the North Philadelphia community, following in Bradley’s gracious and giving footsteps. During Bradley’s time at TUPD, she developed the tradition of police officers giving back during the holidays, according to Temple Now. 

Bradley actively engaged with the community, visiting neighborhood schools and senior centers and participating in various initiatives. She also played a pivotal role in completing a community mural and garden on Bouvier Street in 2015, transforming a vacant lot into a meaningful space. Her mission was to build a symbolic ‘bridge’ connecting Temple with North Philadelphia.

One of Bradley’s enduring legacies is the annual holiday party she initiated in 1996, designed to connect Temple with the local community. The event, which has grown significantly throughout the years, now caters to more than 500 children annually, offering food, gifts and fun. This year’s holiday party, scheduled for Dec. 17 at The Liacouras Center, will be held in Bradley’s honor, ensuring her impactful work continues.

Bradley’s passing comes after Temple’s Vice President Thersea Powell’s passing in January, and President JoAnne Epps’ in September. All three women were trailblazers in their respective fields and left behind lasting legacies on the university. 

“[Bradley’s] the epitome of Temple made so to speak,” McCloskey said. “She was here forever and she knew everybody, she’s definitely going to be missed, for sure.”

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